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Your input wanted at Community Conversation on homelessness tonight in Colorado Springs

Author: Vince Bzdek - February 28, 2018 - Updated: February 28, 2018

The final numbers for the 2018 community survey of the homeless population in Colorado Springs are not yet available, but the total number of homeless persons is expected to exceed the 2017 count of 1,415.

The situation has worsened as more Denver metro residents turn south to escape that area’s white-hot housing market, pushing prices up in Colorado Springs. That means more people are being pushed into homelessness, and fewer people living on the streets can escape it.

So let’s talk about what’s being done, and what more can be done.

The Gazette has invited some of the major stakeholders in this fight to gather for a community conversation starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday. We hope to get them talking to each other and talking to us, telling us what new initiatives have been started, listening to our concerns, and maybe, just maybe, brainstorming how we can all synchronize our efforts better.

Register here to get your tickets to the event.

Mayor John Suthers has agreed to be part of the conversation at the Pinery at the Hill, 775 W. Bijou St. The AARP and Family Promise are co-sponsors of the event, which is open to the public, and we’ll be soliciting questions in advance on the Gazette’s website.

A year after the Springs Rescue Mission’s multimillion dollar shelter opened, it’s routinely at capacity, and the city is back at square one in dealing with burgeoning numbers of homeless.

Other panelists scheduled Wednesday include:

  • Chris Garvin, deputy executive director of the El Paso County Department of Human Services. Chris has worked for the El Paso County Department of Human Services in various leadership positions for more than 24 years.
  • Terry Anderson, Chief Operating Officer of the Springs Rescue Mission, the largest homeless shelter in Colorado Springs. Terry started with the Springs Rescue Mission in March of 2013 after 31 years in the private and public sectors of the Information Technology industry
  • Aimee Cox, CEO of Community Health Partnership, a community collaboration of local health providers. Before that she was the community development manager for the city and she also served as a Manitou Springs City Council member and mayor pro tem from 2008 to 2012.
  • Sgt. Curtis Hasling, who has been with CSPD for over 28 years and is the supervisor of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team.
  • Trig Bungaard, co-founder and co-executive director of the Coalition for Compassion and Action (CCA) and its subsidiary Blackbird Outreach. CCA is an activist group that tries to address the homelessness crisis at its “root casual factors.” Blackbird Outreach serves folks “where they are,” surviving outside or in homes.
  • Beth Roalstad, executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak and the chairwoman of Pikes Peak Continuum of Care, which consists of several nonprofits, businesses and local government that operate under a federal mandate to streamline and coordinate homeless services and housing programs.

This is a forum that will be focused on solutions rather than problems, so bring your ideas.

See you Wednesday.

Vince Bzdek

Vince Bzdek